This year I got to see my abuela and mom make tamales from start to finish.
1. Leaves - Prepare the hojas (banana leaves) which are used here instead of corn husks.
2. Masa - Tico tamales are made with white corn masa, mashed potatoes, chicken broth and pork lard. Yes the idea of lard is gross but the taste is out this world. And all tamale novices take note: the masa makes or breaks it. Once the masa has been cooked you are ready to stuff.
3. Filling - Masa is smeared like butter on two banana leaves and the fillings are placed in the center of the flattened masa mound.
- Meat (normally pork)
- A green olive
- A slice of roasted red pepper
- A prune (yes, a prune)
- A slice of boiled egg
- A dollop of a spiced tomato based sauce tops it all off.
4. Folding - The tamal is now folded. In Costa Rica two tamales are stacked and tied togeteher for cooking. It is called a pina.
5. Cooking - The tamales are boiled in hot water for an hour.
6. Cooling - After cooking they are taken out of the water and neatly stacked to cool for two hours and then refrigerated.
And that is how you make Costa Rican style tamales. Yum-a-licious!